Introduction: The novel begins with a series of events that leads to the loss and rediscovery and loss and rediscovery again (and again) of a St Christopher medal. But that’s incidental. It’s about the people that encounter St Christopher along the way. In this early chapter, we meet Suzanna Quinton, who receives the medal from a friend.

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Everybody called her Suzy Q and she hated it—but what can you do? Her first day in kindergarten was her introduction to inhumanity:

—Hey Suzy Q, wanna play Little House on the Prairie?

—No and my name is Suzanna.

—Suzy Q Suzy Q her hair looks like doggie poo!

Even the teacher laughed and when Suzy delivered a left uppercut to Veronica Dean for starting it all, it was Suzy who got yelled at and sent to the principal’s office. By junior high she had accepted that she would be called Suzy but drew the line at the Q. In homeroom one morning in 7th grade Joey Paternowski very innocently and quite harmlessly called her Suzy Q and she knocked him over two desks and Jim Griffin, who just shrugged and said, —Dude, you’re gonna be the laughing stock of the school for the rest of your junior high career. (At the end of the year he was voted most likely to get his ass kicked by a girl scout but as in all things junior high nobody really meant it; the truth is everyone knew that Suzy was no girl scout and Joey and all his friends would probably laugh about it all the way through high school except that Joey nearly OD’d three nights before the first day of high school and though he physically survived, mentally he was not who he was before and spent most of the rest of his unfortunately very long life institutionalized.) Suzy felt bad immediately after hitting him since he was the new kid and she realized he could not have known that it was once her much hated nickname.  She had already apologized by the time he hit the ground and he accepted her apology mostly out of fear but also because she had up to that point been the only kid in school who had been nice to him. By lunch everyone was warning Lance DeWilles not to piss off his girlfriend or else she’ll kick your ass man! Lance just shrugged and didn’t even ask Suzy what they were talking about when he saw her on the bus. The bus was the only time they got to see each other in school because she was a grade higher than him. Three years later she got her license and began driving herself and Lance to school in the orange and green VW bus she had inherited from her uncle when she was three months old. Suzy had become like an older sister to Lance giving him advice on many matters that he had not asked her for advice on. Their morning rides to school were the high points of his days. When she first started driving them to school he at least had the ride home to look forward to but after a few months Suzy started dating Bickford Pollens and she would go straight to his house after school so Lance had to take the school bus home. Lance was not happy about this arrangement—not so much because he didn’t like riding the bus but because he couldn’t understand what she saw in a jerk like Bickford. He actually never even met the guy—but Bickford? What kind of parents name their child Bickford? What kind of kid could be raised by the kind of parents who would name their kid Bickford? What kind of person does a kid named Bickford grow up to be? Bickford—what did she see in him? No one knows for sure—she was the only one who saw it.

Lance never said anything to her about it though; it really wasn’t his place. He never said much of anything to her really. He just relaxed every morning and enjoyed the ride, the sweet sound of her voice—she really did have the sweetest voice—not sweet like syrupy-cute-tv-sitcom-kid-makes-you-wanna-puke sweet but sweet like honey licked off your lover’s thighs on a warm summer night with music—and as they rode along she would go on and on the whole ride about whatever was on her mind and he would close his eyes and pretend he was back in the womb. When she didn’t talk, which was rarely, he would keep his eyes open and just stare at her—she was the most beautiful human being there ever was, a Greek goddess with an afro, skin smooth as midnight.

When Bickford made the football team and started staying after school for practice Lance started riding with Suzy again, but a week later he got his license and told her he would be driving himself to school and she said she’d miss him but she understood and it’s not like they’d never see each other again. He wanted to give her his St Christopher medal as a thank you and she said no it wasn’t necessary but he insisted and she took it and put it around her neck and told him she’d treasure it always. The next morning he was driving his mother’s car to school when he lost control and drifted into the oncoming traffic lane and collided head on with a tractor trailer.

            The morning of the memorial service she told her mom she didn’t want to go because Lance was stuck in her head and she couldn’t deal with it—it was too much and she just wanted him to go away.

—If he’s gonna die, why doesn’t he just go away?  she asked. Why does he have to stick around like this?

—It’s normal to feel this way, Wilona said. Come to the funeral and say goodbye; that’s the only way to let go.

—I don’t wanna let go. I wanna get rid of him. I want him out of my head.

Get the hell out of my head, she kept telling him all the way to the funeral home. Get the hell out of my head, she kept saying to him during the service. I don’t want you in here. This is my head. You’re gone now. Why don’t you leave?

Not until you tell me something.

Tell you what?

Why’d it have to be like that?

What are you talking about? 


What about us?

Why couldn’t we be together? Why Bickford? Why not me?

You’re jealous of Bickford?

He didn’t answer that; the silence of a ghost is the loudest silence of all.

Well you don’t need to think about Bickford anymore—that’s all over with. What a jerk he turned out to be.

You broke up with him?

Not yet, but I haven’t been returning his calls.

She felt him smile. She put her hand on her chest, over St Christopher.

Lance, what did you mean by why can’t we be together?

You were the first girl I ever kissed.

I was the only girl you ever kissed.

And now she understood.

—Oh Lance, she whispered. You didn’t have to go. It would’ve been ok—there’s so much to live for.



He was gone.

            When Suzy graduated from high school she prepared to carry out her lifelong plan of leaving Connecticut and never coming back. Her mother had insisted Suzy go to college; Suzy had applied to several and got accepted to all of them but decided that driving alone in her VW bus across the United States would provide a better education and that’s what she was going to do. Her mother put her foot down.

—Suzanna Destiny Quinton—you are going to college!

But it was useless—Suzy had made up her mind and that was that.  


                                                The End.

                                                                        (Enter PFC Tom Fillenstaschen.)


She met him at a party at Steve Wynder’s house and it was love at first sight. Many people don’t think there’s such a thing as that and for those people there probably isn’t. Suzy hadn’t ever thought about it before but now she was convinced—Tom Fillenstaschen was the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with and he felt the same. She even told him the night they met that she would be willing to stay in Gilmore just to be with him but he said no she mustn’t do that if it meant abandoning her lifelong dream of getting out of Connecticut. He told her he’d come with her even though it would mean going AWOL but she said no he mustn’t do that and she would wait for him to get out which was only two more years and then they could go together. They made love in the back of her van; it was the first time either of them had ever had sex with someone they’d just met but there was nothing porn about it—the love was so real and overwhelming it rocked the VW till it rolled over. It rolled down the driveway and down the street and down Route 1 to the shoreline and threw itself into Long Island Sound. The love was so strong and adhesive it sealed in the air and kept the water out so that the two could keep on doing it as the van sank to the bottom of the sound. That love was so strong, so light and unimpeded, that it lifted the VW up out of the sound and placed it gently on the beach on the other side. When they woke from dreams of each other the next morning the van was purple and white and they weren’t the least bit surprised to find that they had crossed the sound; they knew that what they had found in each other had that kind of power. They weren’t worried about getting back because they knew they had that power too. They simply drove the van across the water; love kept them afloat—Faith and Love. People who saw the VW driving on water called it the Jesus Bus.

By midsummer they were a couple and no one who knew them could remember a time when they weren’t—not even them. They would often reminisce about things they did together before they ever met like the time Suzy kicked Toby Phillips’s ass and Tom was there to cheer her on; the time her classmates wanted to play Little House on the Prairieand she told them she’d rather play with Tom; and her personal favorite—the time Tom got dumped by Jenny Flatley—his first love—and Suzy was there to dry his tears and tell him something better’s coming along.

Suzy’s mother liked Tom and when Tom found out that Suzy had been accepted to every college she had applied to, he joined forces with her mom to get Suzy to change her mind. Suzy told them she didn’t want to make that commitment but that she would go to community college until Tom was out and they were ready to leave. They accepted this and all was good. Suzy was so aware that all was good that she was certain something bad was going to happen. Driving in the Jesus Bus one rainy night she thought about all the things that could go wrong and then realized that it would probably be something she would never imagine, something that came out of nowhere. It’s always something that comes out of nowhere. She heard a loud bang like a tire blowing out. She pulled over to check and sure enough her tire had blown out. She started to change the tire and the rain started to pour down heavily. Then just as she was finished with the tire and ready to get back in the van an 18-wheeler sped by and splashed her. Soaked and muddy, she sunk back into the driver’s seat and laughed.

—I hope this is it, she said.

She knew that it wasn’t.

The next day Iraq invaded Kuwait and Tom Fillenstaschen shipped out to the Gulf soon after. Before he left they spent a night making love and promises that they would always be together. She gave him her St Christopher medal for protection and it worked. The first time he was ever shot at the bullet hit St Christopher and was deflected. This happened very quickly and no one saw it or would have believed it anyway but Tom understood that his solid Catholic upbringing—nearly forgotten for awhile but renewed the first time he was shot at—strengthened by Suzy’s love would give St Christopher all he needed to protect his charge. Seven bullets in all would be deflected by St Christopher in protection of Tom’s life and he became more bold with each one. Mere bullets were no match for the Christbearer and Tom was certain no bullet would get him while he wore it. And Tom was right—it was a rocket propelled grenade that got him. He saw it coming right at him but he just laughed and opened his arms as if to welcome it. It hit him in the center of his chest and blew him to pieces which really shocked the hell out of him because his faith was that strong—he really thought St Christopher would protect him. But let’s be realistic: deflecting bullets is one thing but deflecting an RPG is something else entirely and Tom was learning it the hard way. His last thought was of Lynda Carter trying to deflect an RPG with her bracelets and being rescued at the last second by Christopher Reeve. He had put his faith in the wrong Christopher it seemed and now he would pay with his life.

            Suzy was sitting in Biology class when Tom was blown to pieces by an RPG 5,894 miles away and she let out an anguished cry. The instructor and all her classmates looked at her and a few asked if she was ok. She cried out, —No! and ran out of the classroom. She didn’t even take her books—Introduction to Biology and her notebook with hearts and flowers and little scribblings of Tom’s Suzy and SDQ+TMF=TL4E—she left them on the desk and ran out to the parking lot, jumped in the Jesus Bus and headed west. She didn’t go home to pack her things or even stop to make some calls to confirm what had happened—she didn’t need to; her reason for staying was gone and now she’d be able to get the education she really wanted. Somewhere outside Boulder Colorado she stopped and got out of the van to curse God, the Universe and her father. Neither God nor her father responded but the Universe said that it was neither its fault nor its concern but just to prove that it still was big it sent darkness to cover the land. It was 1:02 pm and sunny when the clouds rolled in and the sky was pitch black over Boulder. Some people thought it was the Second Coming but most just stared at the sky and said things like Holy shit! and Cool! Suzy got back in the van and kept driving west. The darkness followed her all the way to California but left as quickly as it came, refusing to cross the border when she reached The Golden State.  She had ignored it all the way anyway and so it left her to her solitude.  

            It would be awhile before she would actually mourn her loss though. In California she met a lot of fun people and had a lot of fun times. It was a nonstop party for her and every moment counted; each second of pure bliss was equal to a lifetime of pain just waiting to be told it had a right to exist. She would go through fourteen different lovers before she stopped to think about her true love. When she finally did think about him after getting home from a party early one morning she smiled. Then she laughed.  Then cried. Then laughed again. Then cried. Then she punched a mirror, screamed and cried again. Then she screamed and laughed again. Then laughed hysterically followed by a whimper. Then she giggled, cried, screamed, cried hysterically, pulled her hair, screamed, laughed hysterically, caught her breath, cried some more and ended with a smile and I Love You Tom.

It was 4:37 am in her apartment in LA when this happened and somewhere else in the world—perhaps in a motel room along a long stretch of empty highway between Colorado and Connecticut, perhaps in a sleeping infant’s room in a little town in Idaho—the darkness whispered I love you too.



Ed Go’s writing has appeared in multiple print and online journals, and his chapbook Deleted Scenes from the Autobiography of Ed Go as told by Napoleon Id is available from Other Rooms Press. Find him online at edgosblog.wordpress.com